Frost impacts Western Australia's grain harvest

02.11.2016

According to the FAS, a significant share of Australian wheat is exported in bulk cargoes, especially from Western Australia.
 
In September 2016, Western Australia saw the coldest average minimum temperatures on record across most of the region, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said in an Oct. 12 report. These frosts have resulted in a reduction in the crop production in Western Australia.

“The last month has been challenging for many of our growers and it is unfortunate that we are now expecting a harvest significantly less than originally thought,” said David Capper, general manager of operations. “The harvest is now expected to be in the range of 13-14 million tonnes, which is on par with what CBH received last harvest. This estimate is based on the best information we can obtain from growers and other sources. However, even they will be uncertain until the harvesters go into the paddock.”

According to the FAS, Western Australia accounts for over 40% of wheat exports, while a greater proportion of the eastern coast wheat crop goes to domestic consumption.  

“We have been visiting growers in some of the areas hit hardest by frosts to discuss what we are doing to support them. This includes offering different segregations for weather affected grain to maximize and protect the value and quality of grain delivered,” Capper said. “This is a really challenging time for many growers and it has been great to see local communities rallying together to support one another.”

Despite frost damage in Western Australia, the country’s total wheat production is expected to reach 27.5 million tonnes in 2016-17, the report said. Wheat is Australia’s major grain crop and is mainly used for the production of breads, noodles and pastas. Lower quality wheat is used as stock feed while around 500,000 tonnes of waste wheat starch is used to manufacture biofuel.

The FAS said the demand for low-quality wheat for stock feed has increased slightly in recent years, reflecting the large number of cattle in lot feeding facilities. Australia has also seen greater on-farm storage as farmers seek to maintain flexibility in supply markets. Total storage capacity for off-farm storages currently exceeds 15 million tonnes. In addition, new port facilities have been built over the past five years, with an additional 4 million tonnes of bulk export capacity added. According to the FAS, a significant share of Australian wheat is exported in bulk cargoes, especially from Western Australia.


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